Fatal Charlton crash trial goes to jury
BALLSTON SPA Jury deliberations began Monday afternoon in the manslaughter trial of a Washington County man accused of causing a fatal head-on collision in Charlton last year while driving impaired by drugs.
Marcus R. Young, 26, of Granville, has been on trial in Saratoga County Court for the past two weeks in connection with a crash on Route 67 that caused the death of Glenn L. Smith, 50, of West Charlton, on Jan. 20, 2013.
Young is accused of having marijuana, morphine and oxycodone in his system at the time he crossed lanes while westbound on a straightaway and hit Smith’s Toyota RAV-4 with a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
“It’s not an accident. It’s a series of reckless decisions the defendant made that resulted in the death of Glenn Smith,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Campion said during closing arguments Monday morning.
Defense attorney William Montgomery of Glens Falls, however, spent more than two hours in his closing statement questioning the veracity of law enforcement witnesses and noting that Young was cooperative with police in the aftermath of the accident.
Young’s first explanation to a state trooper, Montgomery noted, was to say that he crossed the road while distracted by plugging in a cellphone charger.
“There can be some real bad judgment calls … that result in a tragic ending, but it doesn’t necessarily result in the behavior being criminal,” Montgomery said.
The most serious charge against Young is second-degree manslaughter, for which the penalty could be 25 years in prison.
In addition, Young is charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor counts of driving while ability impaired by drugs, possession of heroin, driving with ability impaired by a combination of drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana and fireworks.
State police said Young was driving westbound on Route 67 near Division Street when he crossed into the eastbound lane, where he collided with Smith’s vehicle.
Campion said Young had a “toxic cocktail of drugs coursing through his veins,” and made no effort to return to his lane, even as Smith braked and moved toward the shoulder.
Afterward, he said, Young wandered at the scene, even as emergency medical technicians worked in vain to save Smith, who was trapped in his vehicle. “The defendant’s driving and manner in which he caused this crash is the best evidence of impairment,” Campion said.
Montgomery, however, said simply having drugs in your system isn’t illegal unless there is proof it is impairing the driver.
He said EMTs and police didn’t initially note any of the characteristic signs of drug use by Young, but within a couple of days they were saying they recalled him as seeming impaired.
“This was replete with every witness: Join the team, circle the wagons, convict Mr. Young,” Montgomery told the jurors.
Campion countered that Young’s alertness at the scene was due to post-accident adrenaline overcoming the sedative effects of the narcotics, and that as the adrenaline wore off Young then appeared to state troopers processing him to be “on the nod,” as several troopers testified.
Young is currently free on bail. County Court Judge Jerry Scarano is presiding at the trial.